Around 90 people met this morning at the Blantyre Miner's Welfare Resource Centre in conference to think about Tackling Child Poverty. Amongst the eclectic group were representatives from the council, health care, voluntary groups, service providers, churches, youth workers, teachers, and community leaders. This particular conference was centred around the needs of Blantyre, Hamilton and Larkhall.
The first speaker was an educational psychologist, Zeta Anich, who spoke about the importance of "attachment" for the development of children in the earliest months and years. Perhaps we forget just how important those first years are, and the impact a positive and loving environment can have for young children as they grow and develop into mature adults. [There's more...]
The full issue 1 of Spill the Beans has been available for some time, but we have been having some issues getting the payment mechanism sorted on the Spill the Beans website itself. Bizarrely, it is working fine from my blog...
In the meantime, please select from the link below and PayPal over some dosh and we'll get a download version emailed over as soon as possible, or a printed version into the post.
Remember to check the Spill the Beans website for other resources each week.
[UPDATE: Okay, we've done some tweaking and now you can buy and download immediately the current issue of Spill the Beans! Yay! Click on the button on the blog left sidebar and it will transfer you to PayPal for secure payment, thereafter you will be presented with the choice to go to the Merchant, follow this link and you will find a download link to the file.]
I mentioned the book during the sermon a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about community and the need for members of the community to live rightly: to live well with each other, respecting each other, and in all aspects of life living with the principles that God gives us, epitomised in the Ten Commandments, written upon our hearts and minds. While I knew that the company, as with the other great British confectioners, Fry and Rowntree, was founded by families with strong Christian faith, as members of the Quakers, I don't think I had quite realised the impact that this had on the companies and communities in which these confectioners created their wondrous treats: the "food of the Gods".
The impact that their convictions and faith had makes what has happened over the last two years with the hostile takeover of Cadbury by American giant Kraft Foods all the more upsetting. The capitalist system won, but at what long-term cost? [There's more...]
Please, please, if you are on broadband, make sure you turn HD on and watch full screen with the volume turned up nice and loud! It truly is worth it.
Dustin says about this piece, "Every frame of this video is a raw still from a Canon 5D2 DSLR and processed with Adobe software. In Volume 2 I again show off my beautiful home state of Arizona and I also made several trips to Utah. This video has some iconic landmarks that we have seen before. I felt that showing them again with motion controlled HDR and/or night timelapse would be a new way to see old landmarks."
Oh yes it is. Glorious and epic. It definitely puts me in a praiseful state. What a wonderful world this is.
I almost got a whole day off today - much needed! This afternoon I decided to see the feature film version of John Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spyat the Vue in Hamilton. Right up until the final trailer I thought I was going to be the only person in the theatre, but then one other person joined me! Still, it felt like you had the place pretty much to yourself.
We even had an intermission half-way through the film when the film simply stopped and the house lights came up. The next film reel, apparently, had fallen off the rack and so we had to wait for five minutes while the projectionist got everything up and running again. A wee ice-cream while we waited would have been nice, but alas...
It has been a long time since I read the book, or saw the BBC dramatisation of the novel, so I was able to watch it with only a vague remembrance of what happened. It was great, I really enjoyed it. It is a very low-key film - a huge contrast to your typical Hollywood spy film - with a superb cast including John Hurt, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and others.
However, for me, the true star of the film was the simply gorgeous 1970 Citroën DS21 Pallas that was used by the character Peter Guillam to ferry around the characters in many of the scenes. Automotive heaven! A very brief look on the interweb also reveals that this exact car is featured on the Auto Pallas website... ooh la la... I wonder if it is for sale?
It is good to know that the levels of sartorial elegance are not dropping at Cosy Café Sundays! Jonathan and I manned the barbecue for some splendid burgers last night. Once they were all cooked, we joined the other members of the team to serve all the young people. We had 27 young people there last night, with a number of new faces over the last few gatherings - great to see. I think we are in touch with around 50 young teenagers now through the Cosy Café.
The theme was "Serving" and we explored what it means to make a choice to serve others using the example of the wee boy who decides to serve by sharing his packed lunch amongst that huge gathering of thousands on a hillside. [Video link after the break...]
Many years ago, Carolyn and I were flying up to Alaska and as we flew across the USA it was a glorious clear day. You could see the ground beneath us with beautiful clarity. No doubt taking a breather from reading a book, I was looking out of the window and happened to be looking out as we passed over Fermilab, pictured above. The rings of the particle accelerator were absolutely clear even from a few miles height, as was the iconic main building.
It was pure chance I was looking out, but I was taken aback to see Fermilab below us as I had been reading about the extraordinary physicist Richard Feynman's work at the time. A great introductory book about Feynman is Geniusby James Gleick. There is a large computing centre at Fermilab named after Feynman. [There's more...]
A letter came through today from South Lanarkshire Council intimating a "Tackling Child Poverty Local Conference" taking place in October in Cambuslang and in Blantyre. Our local event will be held on Wednesday 12 October in the Blantyre Miner's Resource Centre from 9 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
The letter says the purpose of the event is "to bring a range of local service providers, practitioners, community activists and volunteers together and through presentations and discussions, acknowledge progress and identify further actions that can be taken to address poverty in South Lanarkshire's most deprived urban areas."
The conference will focus on child poverty and early intervention strategies to prevent problems escalating. The conference looks worth attending and supporting to see how we can participate as a church in supporting this work.
I will try to attend, if anyone else would like to do so, please let me know. A confirmation of attendance is requested from the organisers.
Today was spent at a taster conference day at Orchardhill Parish Church with folks from Lead Academy, a group trying to encourage mutual support, encouragement, idea sharing, and accountability between churches. Andy Williamson and I attended from St Andrew's, and it was good also to see Hamilton Presbytery represented by a good number of other attendees.
I enjoyed the day. It had a mixture of worship, finding out about the work of Lead Academy, a trial group activity that I won't expand on too much in case we use it ourselves locally! Peter Neilson, who I know through numerous Church Without Walls events, was also present and gave us a talk about leadership that was much appreciated. As Pauline Steenbergen later commented, we had been 'wisdomised' by Peter! [There's more...]
Throughout the service on Sunday, using an idea from Spill the Beans, water dripped steadily from a rock on the communion table into a bowl underneath: symbolic of the story of God providing water in the wilderness for the Hebrews (Exodus 17) that was our theme in worship. Slowly, as the water dripped away from the rock, the rock itself was revealed.
The rock, encased in ice, had been sitting in the freezer for half the week, and I had no idea how long it would take to defrost enough for the rock to begin to show! By the end of the service the rock was appearing as you can see, but it took longer than I thought. Or perhaps the water dripping on and on, even well past the end of worship, is symbolic of God's never-failing provision and generosity to us?
I liked it. It was a good dynamic focal point for the service today. So kudos to the Spill the Beans team member who had this idea!
In tomorrow morning's service we continue our journey with the Hebrew people in the wilderness as they bicker and quarrel endlessly about this, that and everything (Exodus 17). I read today a very amusing article, some 110 years old, written by the famous science-fiction author H.G. Wells titled "The Pleasure of Quarreling". It is worth a read.
A wee sample:
There are certain principles in quarrelling, however, that the true
quarreller ever bears in mind, and which, duly observed, do much to
facilitate encounters. In the first place, cultivate Distrust. Have
always before you that this is a wicked world, full of insidious people,
and you never know what villainous encroachments upon you may be hidden
under fair-seeming appearances. That is the flavour of it. At the first
suspicion, "stick up for your rights," as the vulgar say. And see that
you do it suddenly. Smite promptly, and the surprise and sting of your
injustice should provoke an excellent reply. And where there is least
ground for suspicion, there, remember, is the most. The right hand of
fellowship extended towards you is one of the best openings you have.
"Not such a fool," is the kind of attitude to assume, and "You don't put
upon me so easy."
An elderly couple trying to get to grips with their new laptop inadvertently record their attempts to take a photo. Priceless, and there is something wonderful about the fun banter between them after all those years together.
In the space of a month they now have more than 7 million views on YouTube after their granddaughter put their video online.
What is love? It seems such an obvious question until you start to tease it apart. At Cosy Café Sundays at the weekend we were thinking about what it means to live by love. We talk about living by love and about God's love all the time within the Church, but perhaps we are not always aware of how much meaning this little word contains.
It is no wonder that in other languages there are numerous words that are used to describe different aspects of our English word 'love'. Most familiar are the four Greek words that C.S. Lewis famously expounds upon in his book The Four Loves. [There's more...]
Our journey with the Hebrews continued this morning as we trekked into the wilderness, grumping and groaning (thanks Bobby!) and found God's generous provision in the quail and manna provided. I had a whole series of different trips planned for the children into the hall using some ideas from Spill the Beans, but, perhaps perfectly, almost all the children did not listen to my instructions to go and find one piece of bread on the floor in the hall to bring back to me! Instead they came back with plates piled high, needless to say I took everything away but the one piece that was all they really needed...
Not quite what I had thought would happen, but a perfect illustration of exactly what the Hebrews wanted to do when they saw the provision of God and wanted it all, now, to store up for the future, against God's wishes to trust him for their daily bread. [There's more...]